France orders breathalyser for motorists


Many motorists at Dover, Britain, are unaware of the new French law

A new law has come into force in France making it compulsory for drivers to carry a breathalyser kit in their vehicles or risk an on-the-spot fine.

It is the latest move by the government aimed at bringing down the number of road deaths caused by alcohol.

All motorists must also have with them a high-visibility safety vest and a warning triangle.

Foreign drivers are included in the new rule, however there is a grace period until November.

Some 4,000 people are killed on French roads every year, with drink-driving being the main factor in accidents ahead even of speeding.

Bonanza for manufacturers

The French government hopes that with breathalysers in every car, drivers who suspect they may be over the limit can test themselves and if necessary refrain from taking the wheel.

The former government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, which gave the go-ahead to the new law, said it hoped 500 lives might be saved every year.

A woman uses a breathalyser (Ethylotest) on June 26, 2012 in the French western city of Quimper Motorists driving without the two breathalyser tests will be handed a fine of 11 euros

Under the rules, which exclude mopeds, drivers who fail to produce a breathalyser after 1 November will face a fine of 11 euros.

The kits come in two types: expensive electronic ones which can be reused; and cheap chemical ones, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Tens of millions of the kits are going to have to be supplied, but right now there is a shortage, which is one reason for the four-month grace period, our correspondent says.

He adds that the new rule is proving a bonanza for manufacturers, of which there are only two in France.

Meanwhile, drivers' groups opposing the measure say it has been foisted on France by clever industry lobbying.

To enforce the regulations, French police say they plan to carry out random checks on those entering the country through the Channel Tunnel, as well as drivers arriving on ferries.

Retailers in Britain say sales of breathalysers have risen considerably due to the law, the Press Association reports.

Car accessory retailer Halfords said there had been unprecedented demand, but said that 6 out of 10 Britons travelling to France were not aware of the changes.

The drink-driving limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - 30mg less than the UK limit.


More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    It should be remebered that they have to be French approved, one of the reasons, manufacturers in France are delighted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    I'm in the UK and I bought a reusable one for 80 quid so I can't go out in the morning inadvertently over the limit

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    How long before this is a EU wide rule? This will do nothing to cut the levels, people who are over the limit drive becuase either they think they are ok or they think there is little chance of being caught. I notice from the story that the french police will be targeting UK resident no surprise there from are EU partner

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    A good idea in essence but difficult to enforce as those who are habitual drink drivers are unlikely to change their habits because of legislation.

    Drivers don't have to use them and those who are aware that they have drank too much will certainly not use them to incriminate themselves if stopped en route by the French police.

    A good start but more will be needed to stop drink driving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Seems a bit like preaching to the saved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    What a load of nonsense! The sober don’t need to use them and the drunk will not use them. Maybe by the same argument burglars should be forced to carry a “ball and chain” or face a hefty fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    In this country where the speed cameras a painted bright yellow and only catch the very stupid, and thats if the local car "enthusiasts" haven't blown them up, perhaps we should introduce a extremely stringent driving test and make all drivers retake it to weed out the incompetents who seem to be causing all the accidents and deaths. the expense would be easily covered by the savings!

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    I lived in France 20 years ago and had a car (with UK number plates). Whenever the police had random road blocks they would take one look at my car, realise it was foreign and wave it through! Hopefully things have changed, and the French police will now be visible, and enforce their traffic laws - not something that they were really known for when I lived there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    My understanding is that motorists must have the requisite number of UNUSED test kits in the car. So there is no purpose to them - use one of those and you can no longer legally drive, regardless of the result. To use one only makes sense if you know you are drunk - those who think there is a chance they are below the limit won't queer their pitch by using one, hence more drunk drivers. Madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    "Some 4,000 people are killed on French roads every year, with drink-driving being the main factor in accidents..."

    So much for the myth about responsible drinking on the continent.

    Let's have no more of this nonsense about it being healthy and safe to drink posh booze. Alcohol is alcohol, even when it's in the form of red wine, and the smallest amount is bad for you.

    The unpopular truth!

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    This from the country where the photo on your driving permit remains the same at 88 as it was when you got it at 16.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Having them in the car is one thing - but having people use them is another, and would be hard to enforce.

    Most people will have them, as required, but get the cheapest, single use type, so not use them as they don't want to have to pay for replacements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Ultimately if it saves lives then it can only be worthwhile.

    As a non-drinker the kit is an expense I'll simply have to accept when driving in France.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.


    "My trick for not getting caught out drinking & driving is simply don't
    drink anything"

    Won't work. Alcohol is a natural chemical and there is some in your
    blood right now. The bonkers limits proposed by the zero tolerance mob are indistinguishable from natural levels.

    Eaten a piece of fruit, or a bread fresh roll, or used perfume...that
    make YOU a 'drink driver'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    153. Mynki_magic
    "Reduce the limits, ban those who are caught for life, confiscate and crush their vehicle"
    You seem to have forgotten public disembowelling and imprisonment of all family members.

    Nevertheless, it does seem a touch harsh.

    You're not suffering from a hangover are you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    The word is 'teetotal'

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    In theory a good idea but flawed as it enrich the few manufacturers of the device.
    The behaviour of the French police is the key to enforcement.
    How can use of mobile phones be enforced?
    I was stopped on a rural road in France for not technically stopping when joining a trunk road, punished by an immediate on-the spot-fine even though there was NO oncoming traffic! Who will breathalyse the police?

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Whooooops, Ford Anglia, not "Anglia Ford" -^.^-

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    So what happens if I use one, it states I'm ok to drive, get stopped and then get fined for not having two usable breathlisers??? I'm joking by the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    I wonder how much these things cost? less than 11 euros??

    I think i'll take my chances, i bet i'll be quids in in the end


Page 14 of 23


More Europe stories



  • Peaky Blinders publicity shotBrum do

    Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?

  • Oliver CromwellA brief history

    The 900-year-story behind the creation of a UK parliament

  • Beer and alcoholAbstinence wars

    The struggle to claim the month of October

  • Image of Ankor Wat using lidarJungle Atlantis

    How lasers have revealed an ancient city beneath the forest

  • Tesco signBest before?

    Has Tesco passed its sell-by date, asks Richard Anderson

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.